Poetry by Tatjana Debeljacki (Croatian and English Translation)


Reci mi kako sačuvati čistim ovo što imamo,
jer znaš, zaboravih ti reći,
ja uništim zaista sve što dotaknem,

a moram ti reći,
volim kada me gledaš onako krijući,
misleći da ne vidim,
volim kada pričaš,
čak i nekom drugome,
onako preglasno, da te mogu čuti i kada nisam u blizini,
i odem, verovatno nepotrebno, bezbroj puta popraviti šminku,
jer znam da ćeš me ispratiti pogledom,
a moram ti reći,
kolena ne slušaju kada si u blizini,
i zaista se bojim da ne uprljam nešto ovako čisto i nevino,
jer znaš, moram ti reći,
ja uništim sve što dotaknem,
zato te molim,
reci mi kako da nas sačuvam,
i kako da savladam želju da ti kažem,
dok me gledaš i dok mi pričaš,
“zagrli me i poljubi me”
od straha da ne uništim sve.

[English Translation]

Something mine

Tell me how to keep what we have pure
Because, you know, I forgot to tell you,
I destroy whatever I touch,

And I have to tell you,
I like the way you look at me secretly
Thinking that I don’t see it
I love to hear you talking
Even to somebody else,
Too loud so that I can hear you even if I’m not around
And when I have gone, probably without any need, to fix my make-up
for a hundredth time,
Because I know your eyes will follow me,
And I have to tell you,
My knees won’t listen to me when you’re near me,
And I’m really afraid of spoiling this so pure and innocent,
Because you know, I have to tell you,
I destroy whatever I touch,
And that is why I’m begging you,
Tell me how to save us
And how to prevent myself from telling you,
While you’re looking at and talking to me,
“Hold me and kiss me”
Fearing that I will ruin everything.

Tatjana Debeljacki is from Uzice, Serbia. Debeljacki has published 4 collections of poetry. Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/debeljacki Blog: http://debeljacki.mojblog.rs/

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Whose Brain Is It? [Sept 2011 – Leena Prasad]

Whose Brain Is It?
by Leena Prasad

She turns on the CD player in her car and “When I’m 64” streams out over the speakers. Mona starts to cry. She is on Highway 280, driving down to Palo Alto to see her brother Michael. She’s flooded by memories of her childhood with Michael. She can hear his voice and visualize him singing the song when he was 9 or 10 years old. Michael has been in a car accident and has been in a coma for several weeks. It all seems hard to believe. He’s only 24. How can this be happening?

Mel is walking around in the grocery store. He sees a ripe yellow mango with red spots on the top. He picks it up and sniffs it. “Singaporean,” he can hear his ex-girlfriend’s voice say. He can visualize her eating the mango, the juices running down her mouth as she bites into the skin. He wonders what she is doing now. Perhaps she is eating one of these; he thinks and puts it in his grocery cart.

Mina passes by Dosa on Valencia Street. She remembers the time she went in there with her aunt, who was visiting from India. She remembers that day and how much fun it was to have dosa in her own neighborhood with her favorite aunt from India.

It’s not difficult to guess that the music, the scent, the visual cues produce emotional reactions in the brain of these people. But, what exactly happens in the brain when we store and retrieve a memory?

Leena Prasad has a journalism degree from Stanford University. Her writing portfolio is available at www.FishRidingABike.com and she can be reached at leena@fishridingabike.com.

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Yerba Buena Center for the Arts presents Ophelia: A Musical

[Reviewed by Bruce Roberts]

Hamlet’s Ophelia, a New Tale

In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Ophelia is a tragic figure. Spurned by Hamlet in his feigned madness over the death of his father, she goes genuinely mad after Hamlet mistakenly kills her own father. Grief-stricken, heart-broken, possibly pregnant, she falls in a stream and drowns, whether by suicide or accident has been the subject of Ph.D. dissertations ever since.

Now San Francisco playwright Darren Venn has rewritten her story in a new musical comedy/tragedy titled—what else? —Ophelia. I was fortunate enough to see a “Concert Reading” of this new musical last week at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and watched a very enjoyable show with lots of potential.

Though grounded in Shakespeare’s Ophelia, Venn’s imagination nonetheless leaves Shakespeare behind with invention after invention that extend and amplify Hamlet’s sometime girlfriend into the main character of this new tale. Played and sung powerfully by Melissa O’Keefe, Ophelia elaborates her Elizabethan original into a symbol of abused women throughout history.

Bruce Roberts is a poet and ongoing contributor to Synchronized Chaos Magazine. Roberts may be reached by at brobe60491@sbcglobal.net.

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The SETI Institute: A nonprofit organization in Mountain View, CA

[Article by Michael Widman]

Seeking Intelligence

What is intelligence? Can it be found in space or fabricated on earth? Who should we ask? On Tuesday June 24, 1997, yours truly was questioning his own mental quality, beset by remorse having cast aside job security bringing wife and kids to the United States from Sweden for the sake of embarking a start-up venture. How smart was that? While I pondered the wisdom in pursuing a path with such uncertain prospects, weak from weeks of worries, I explored the premises around my new employer’s office at Landings Drive in Mountain View, California. That’s when I stumbled upon the entrance to the SETI Institute. I recalled possibly from the pages of a book, Contact, that SETI stands for Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence, and I had landed near its quarters. My spirit rose because here were clearly people who had climbed really far out on a limb.

Unbeknownst to me, half a dozen scientists were pondering a much bigger question: Was the signal they were watching with keen eyes on their computer screens behind that door at that very moment of extraterrestrial origin? I had no idea ET might be checking in behind that door. Not yet.

SETI Senior Astronomer, Doctor in astrophysics Seth Shostak, was there to watch the suspect signal. Much later he opens his book, Confessions of an Alien Hunter, by telling that he thought that day “might be the most important day in the history of Homo Sapiens.” All this excitement passed me by because I did not knock the door. It would have been fun. Talk about a road not taken.

Now I intended to repair that oversight.

And so, when fourteen years later an opportunity emerges to visit the SETI Institute and interview Seth Shostak for Synchronized Chaos Magazine, I decide to take a few days break from sitting home alone in my and my wife’s Santa Clara apartment writing a novel about ghosts and instead research the current search for extraterrestrial intelligence popping my head out the door as a seal that pops its head out of the polar ice to breathe.

Michael Widman may be reached at widmanm5@comcast.net.

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Book Review: The Right To Be Lazy, by Paul Lafargue

[Reviewed by Martin Rushmere]

The weakness of Marxism and ultra socialists is that they confuse “work”, “toil” and “labor”. Most of the human race wants to work, partly to stimulate mental activity but above all to acquire dignity, a term that Marxist literature makes great play with.

Sure, the Marxists drone on about the lack of dignity because of exploitation of labor, but are loath to acknowledge that the individual aspires to a life of fair pay for a fair day’s work.

Marx’s son-in-law, Paul Lafargue, committed the same error. Hindsight of 120 years allows us to take a smug and condescending attitude to his theories. But that is to miss the point of this semi-satire based on the premise that the honest working man should cease toiling for the uncaring, cruel masters, not by strikes but taking more leisure and forming communal activities.

His crusade was in the white heat of anger at the end of the 19th Century about the inhuman conditions in the factories that seemed destined to be eternal. And he had every right to be angry, as industrial societies in France and England treated the workers abominably. That point he and his father-in-law hammered home ceaselessly and effectively.

Marxist theories were an ideal spark for the workers became — Lafargue was publicly airing a horror that was admitted privately in the drawing rooms of society hostesses. In reality, Marxists became agitators for social reform, allied with a whole host of social activists who were not interested in national politics.

You can contact the reviewer, Martin Rushmere, at martinzim@earthlink.net.

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Book Review: Ivan and Misha, by Michael Alyenikov

[Reviewed by Bruce Roberts]

Michael Alyenikov’s Ivan and Misha is a beautiful book of short stories,  seven all told, if the prologue and epilogue are counted, that are loosely centered around the title characters. What really ties them together though are the variety of passionate, intense characters, and the author’s amazing descriptive writing.

Ivan and Misha are two Russian fraternal twins who emigrate to America with lots of emotional baggage. Their beautiful mother died when they were very young, and neither they nor their father—a doctor of amazing charm and personality, and a penchant for big stories, and dreams he never pursues—have got over her. She reappears over and over through the stories, the stuff of dreams and sad memories.

As intensely as they remember their mother, so do Ivan and Misha love–in a very conflicted way—their father. He brought them to America for a better life, and he too appears and reappears. He is the charming big talker of their childhood, he is the old man deteriorating before their eyes, he is the vessel of ashes that they and his best friends reverently scatter from the Staten Island Ferry.

Both gay, early on in the AIDS epidemic, Ivan and Misha maintain the same conflicted yet loving intensity with their romantic partners. Misha, the more stable of the two, seems to have longer relationships, with only two partners mentioned. Ivan, more mercurial, bounces from partner to partner, aching with love for one only to have him slip away and go home without a word. All the relationships though seem transitory: Even Smith, Misha’s current partner, anguishes over staying or going, loving or not loving. He even tries a one-time stand, but halfway through realizes he loves Misha, dresses, and leaves.

Bruce Roberts is a poet and ongoing contributor to Synchronized Chaos Magazine. Roberts may be reached by at brobe60491@sbcglobal.net.

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Book Review: Craft Beer Bar Mitzvah, by Jeremy Cowan

[Reviewed by Dave Douglas]

There is plenty of shmaltz in Jeremy Cohen’s book, Craft Beer Bar Mitzvah. Enough so for everyone who is anyone (or not), to go a’round of beer, from the front cover (charge), to the back. The atmosphere in his shtick is fluid throughout. From his seedling of an idea, to hopping from one coast to another, and brewing his dream so we can taste what Cowen delivers as a picture of the bitterness of business to the Jewbelation of success, all with an ongoing buzz of humor.

Not only is his book entertaining, but as Cowen labeled it himself, “… who doesn’t love the story of a small business, a sole proprietor trying to make it happen? And free booze!” And this book is no side-show to be tossed aside or re-gifted to the other end of the bar. There are bold, real-life, hard-to-swallow business lessons which grant his book the entrance into any university library. One big ingredient of his formula is, “… until you’re already a success, nobody else is going to make you a success.” It is that type of shtick which enables Cowen to pour out his transparency about his personal life as well – the part which provides a view into the passion for his beer which comes to a head on the printed page.

As Cowen states, “Remember the three pillars of shmaltz … quality, commitment, shtick.” And, he has them all in this well-balanced, full-flavored read, which will prompt you to ask for a second-coming! Shmaltz Brewing Company is “THE CHOSEN BEER”, and Craft Beer Bar Mitzvah is THE CHOSEN BOOK!

You can contact the reviewer, Dave Douglas, at carpevelo@gmail.com.